"Till all are one"
In the past decade or so, fans of the treasured Transformers series haven't had the most noble of adaptations in regards to video games. Despite the massive popularity that Michael Bay's Transformers trilogy has garnered, the video game spin-off's have done little to pay homage to the beloved characters that they are based on. Not until High Moon Studios took control of the franchise and brought it back to it's roots with 2010's War for Cybertron. It was received with a relatively positive reaction from both critics and fans alike, both appreciating the return to Cybertron instead of Bay's setting. High Moon has now decided to step it up another level with Fall of Cybertron -- a direct sequel to War for Cybertron. The results? Let's find out!
Having basically picked up right where War left off, Cybetron is still stuck in a civil war splitting the planet into two factions; the Autobots and Decepticons. Now, as the planet is dying and running out of Energon, a desperate plan to escape both the conflict and find a new home is hatched and it soon becomes a race to the finish so to speak. On one hand, the Decepticon leader Megatron merely wants to destroy every single Autobot while Optimus plans for the survival of their species while locked in a death battle with his nemesis. Surprisingly enough, the story jumps to various perspectives from both factions, even glancing upon the famed DInobots!
The most evident difference between the two games comes with it's mission structure. Rather than being able to choose which side of the story to begin with and which character to select, you follow the path you are given this time around and are not given the choice of playing as a specific Autobot or Decepticon. It's a little disappointing but it's fantastic to see the other less appreciated characters take a spotlight for once and you quickly come to forgive this change. Another disheartening difference comes in the lack of any sort of cooperative campaign options, which might be infuriating to the co-op lovers out there, myself included - but as you play through the campaign, you may find that an addition of co-op may distract from the pacing of the story that developers wished to tell.
A new addition to the series this time around is the Teletraan I upgrade system, which pays a homage to fans but also changes and makes up for the lack of ability to choose a specific character to play as for each mission. These upgrade stations allow you to select a specific weapon to choose from; light or heavy, specific perks which carry on to every character, and further upgrade each weapon. These stations appear every so often in each mission and specific blueprints scattered around each level allow you obtain new weapons quicker rather than waiting to unlock them through story progression.
What easily might be the most distinguishable aspect of the High Moon Cybertron series thus far is the simple, yet elaborate third-person gameplay. Taking a massive inspiration from Gears of War, the movement and shooting mechanics are instantly recognizable with one major exception; the lack of a proper cover system. While you can still hide behind objects, you can't truly take cover but you are given the option to switch your shooting hand at any given time to better take advantage of your position when under fire. Herein lies what could be both a praise or a gripe towards the game - the difficulty. Recklessly stand out in the open for too long and you'll be picked off in seconds. On top of that, the game takes notice of "health cubes" rather than a regenerative system, which leads you to be careful with your actions. Nonetheless, the shooting mechanics are nearly flawless and the fluidity in which you control your character is worthy of the highest of praise. Each shot you land, each pull of the trigger is felt when lander upon your foe and it's extremely satisfying.
Adding more fuel to the fire is the game's fantastic visuals and admirable voice work. While stylistically taking inspiration from Bay's films, the setting is all it's own. It's a stunning sight to see a planet such as Cybertron in such despair and broken and one is left to imagine how beautiful it must have been before all the chaos. An all-star voice cast makes it's return and plants it's feet as one of the best attributes that Fall of Cybertron has to offer. Each voice actor brings their A-game and helps to further expand the character's story and personality. It's one aspect that should be rightfully recognized.
Now to make up for the lack of any proper cooperative options in the game's main campaign, High Moon decides to repay it's fanbase by returning the ever-popular Escalation game mode -- a wave based survival mode. Four players can team up and choose from four characters in attempt to survive 15 relentless waves of enemies. Map selection is given in the pre-game lobby and your team either plays as the Autobots or the Decepticons, although the choice is not given to select between the two. Each level has certain sections which can be unlocked further when enough credits are amassed, which expands the playing ground. Escalation is an enjoyable co-op addition to Fall of Cybertron and is best enjoyed with a group of friends rather than by your lonesome.
Making it's return is the ever enticing multiplayer portion of the Cybertron series. Allowing you to fully customize your Autobot or Decepticon of choice from the colour to the specific armour set and weapon loadout through the game's ranking system. There are four classes to choose from; Scientist, Infiltrator, Destroyer, and Titan. Each holds their own benefits as specific perks set each class apart and plays a specific role on the battlefield. Infiltrators for one are quick, Bumblebee fashioned characters that are coupled with camouflage and are best utilized in short range combat. Titan's on the other hand are the "tank" class of the competitive multiplayer. Slower and more adept with heavier weaponry, they provide mass amounts of fire and push enemies back with ease.
The game types given are your standard fare as Team Deathmatch and Capture the Flag make their return, joined by newcomer Headhunter. Each mode is equally as thrilling and the map design is brilliantly crafted for each specific mode to keep things balanced. Any fan of the series will be ecstatic when they encounter the multiplayer options and the experience itself is enough to keep you occupied for days on end.
Boasting a story riddled with fan service and a top notch voice cast, and despite the lack of any cooperative options in the campaign being a slight downfall -- the intriguing story, adored cast of characters and magnificent multiplayer options make Fall of Cybertron a worthy sequel and and welcomed entry into High Moon's series.